I like foraging. Although I hardly do any foraging myself I like the idea of it. Of course I hate the recent new foragers who never consider how nature’s cycle works and remove all mushrooms they can find from the area even before mushrooms open the umbrella. It is becoming a great threat to forests in the UK. That is outrageous! Nothing remains in the forest if people keep doing this.
That is not what I do. My foraging is much more in a smaller scale … such as Blackberry Picking. However, it does not seem a good season for Blackberry this year. It might be the problem where I live but I could get only handful of them.
Anyway, there is a sweet I always make in Blackberry season.
Blackberry Custard Tart
I was eagerly waiting for Sping to arrive for so long. I felt winter lasted forever but now it is spring. I see lots of posts of Sakura🌸 Cherry blossoms on Social Media Network particularly from Japan. In London Cherry blossom has started to open too. Some has flowered even in March by being confused with the strange weather this year. It is the season I like the most.
Although it is supposed to be a cheerful season it started to be rainy this week in England. When I see a grey sky I need some sweet that reassures me it is spring. The Colour scheme of the sweet came into my mind first – Pink! Then I thought of Strawberry Jam. I know Strawberry is a summer fruit in England but the Strawberry in my mind is light pink not that vivid red of summer Strawberry.
I know the Easter has gone, but never mind.
I like making bread. My love in bread making started from making Hot Cross Buns several years ago. Since then I always make some Hot Cross Buns during Easter time. Although I said that I did not have enough time to make any special sweet for the Easter in my previous post I managed to make Hot Cross Buns. Without Hot Cross Buns Spring never comes to my kitchen.
In normal Hot Cross Buns I like to add several spices and orange zest. I love the smell when you toast it. However, this time I did it differently. I made “Matcha Hot Cross Buns”.
Matcha Hot Cross Buns
Do you know ‘Houjicha’? It is Roasted Green Tea which is Japanese Tea with a marvellous aromatic scent. I enjoy having it when I want to relax and cleanse my body. Although it is Green Tea, it looks quite brown because it’s roasted.
I normally use loose leaves for making tea but recently I’ve got this lovely powdered Houjicha. The tea leaves were very finely ground and has kept the wonderful aroma and taste. This powdered type is quite a new thing for me and even in Japan (I think). I found it is great that you can add it into whatever you want to make without brewing tea.
Powdered Houjicha & Houjicha loose tea
I have been trying to use this powder in several ways and in order to enjoy its aroma at the maximum in the finished products I think it is the best using it without heating. The scent is so good that I don’t want to lose any during the cooking process. I think ingredients also should be limited. You know what they say; “Simple is Best!”
Melting Moments with Houjicha Cream
On the day I did not have any sweet at home, the first & only thing I thought and wanted to make for my afternoon tea was ‘Tai-yaki‘. It is a fish shaped Japanese sweet with sweet Azuki bean paste filling.
It was sunny day even in London in winter and a Robin & a few Blue Tits were flying around in the garden. I felt Spring was getting closer. I had to have something nice.
A cup of hot Sencha Green Tea was very nice too.
If you want to try out Tai-yaki, the recipe is on my old post. Please check it. Cheers 🙂
Yes, yes another ‘Soufflé’ type food. Since the Sake Cooking Competition I like making soufflé. Its very soft light & smooth texture has the luxurious quality.
I also like Pancake. So why don’t I mix the two things I like together? I wanted it to have a custardy flavour so I did not add anything to the basic ingredients except for Vanilla extract.
If it’s a Vanilla flavoured soft sweet … it should be with Strawberries, right?
Soufflé Pancake with Strawberry Sauce
It’s ‘Pancake Day’ today! It is not familiar Day for Japanese but I know it comes every year near Springtime.
So, what is Pancake Day?
Pancake Day is also called Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday. It is a day before the start of Lent which is the period of 40 days leading to Easter. As you can guess I am not Christian so this is the maximum I can explain about this day. What I understand is that the Pancake day is the day people try to use up all their eggs, fat and sugar in order to clear up the cupboards at home before another feasting period (Easter).
What they do?
People make Pancakes! That is the main thing. There are some festivals and people race with a frying pan on one hand flipping pancake whilst running. It’s a fun day. On social media I saw someone who lives locally asking where is a cafe that serves good pancakes. I guess it is great to know where a good cafe is but what I can’t understand is why this person doesn’t make Pancakes herself? Originally that is what this day is for, isn’t it? And it is not difficult to make a pancake either. You just need basic ingredients of eggs, sugar and flour.
So I made my own pancakes. In my kitchen it cannot be a normal pancake. It has to be a Pancake in Japanese style. I made ‘Dorayaki‘ with ‘Matcha‘ Green Tea flavour.
‘Sake Souffle Quiche with Fig & Pine Puts’ and ‘Rosy Sake Jelly with Raspberry Sauce’
As I announced in my previous post I received the second prize in Gekkeikan Masters Cooking Competition. I had to develop two dishes, one in savoury and one in sweet, by using ‘Sake‘ (Japanese Rice Wine) which should not be a Japanese dish. This is the photo of my dishes at the competition venue.
My savoury dish was Sake Soufflé Quiche with Fig & Pine Nuts and the dessert dish was Rosy Sake Jelly with Raspberry Sauce. I was originally developing this Soufflé Quiche for making it in one bigger tin and then cut into smaller size for 2 to 4 people.
My Sake Souffle Quiche in a bigger size
However, during the process in the competition the situation had changed and I had to adjust the recipe for using smaller tins. I had to use a small portable oven on the site so baking it in smaller tins was much quicker and also had less chance of burning the top and bottom so that it was a good move for me in the end.
Here is the recipe of my ‘Sake Soufflé Quiche with Fig & Pine Nuts‘ in a smaller size.
Sake Soufflé Quiche with Fig & Pine Nuts
On New Year’s Eve I was invited to friends’ house for the New Year’s Eve Dinner with some other good friends of mine. Many of us are foodies so we each brought some different dishes.
The main dish and dessert were already made by somebody else so I made some nibbles for drink before the dinner started. It was Mushroom Vol au Vents and Cheese Twists. It took a while until the main dish was ready to serve so my nibbles went down a treet whilst we were waiting.
The main food was a roasted chicken brought in by Miss D. She also cooked all the side dishes such as Braised Red Cabbage, Lentil with Italian Sausage and roasted potatoes & Tomato with garlic (famous? Gwyneth Paltrow recipe). It was delicious! Thank you Miss D for your hard work.
Our course followed by a selection of Cheeses & Biscuits, Grapefruit Posset and Melting Snow Man made by the friend’s daughter and then Herbal Tea.
As our little tradition of exchanging gifts on the New Year’s Day I took some ‘Matcha Chocolate’ in a handmade Origami Box with me.
It’s easy to make and taste so good. It can be a very good gift for a Matcha lover. I presented it in a handmade Origami Box.
So what were my range of products for the markets? I did not have much time to take photos and by the time I finished making and before packing, there wasn’t enough natural light to take good photos of all my products. However, I managed some.
The first product I introduce to you here is the most colourful one ‘Nerikiri‘. Nerikiri is the very delicate Sweet which basic ingredients are just rice flour, sugar and beans so that it is Gluten/Dairy/Oil/Egg free. It is one of the most classy Japanese Sweet ‘Wagashi (和菓子)’ that are often used for Tea Ceremony.
These are the three types I made.